Experience with positive ETG test, California BRN

  1. Hi all, this board continues to be a great source of support and encouragement throughout this whole ordeal.

    An update on my status. I've been in the probation program for the CA BON going on 10 months now, never had a positive screen. This past Tuesday, I received a phone call from someone in the probation department stating a drug screen I submitted on the 25th of February came back positive for ETG.

    I wasn't drinking, and I was shocked to hear the result, not to mention a little annoyed considering I was at work at the time and was having a hectic day. Per board regulations, I received an Intent to Cease Practice letter on Wednesday giving me 5 business days to respond.

    First thing I did was call FirstLab and request an MRO review. During the MRO review, I revealed that I've been taking a generic version of flonase twice a day since mid-February and upon reviewing the ingredients, I saw the label states phenylethyl alcohol as an ingredient which the MRO said could trigger a positive ETG test. One of the bummers about the California program is that they don't let you see what your lab results were, even for a positive, so I have no way of knowing what my ETG level was, but the MRO said my use of this medication was congruent with my ETG level, however he has no control over what action the board will take because of this. This was the first time I was tested since starting this medication, so I truly believe this is what made me test positive.

    After this conversation, I threw out the bottle of flonase and then was selected for a PETH test on Friday. With all this going on, I also retained the services of an attorney who specializes with the Board, though there's not much she can do at this point since no action has been taken yet.

    Just wondering if any of you have had this happen and what the repurcussions were. Were you suspended from work? Given a warning? Had to go through the disciplinary process all over? How long did it take to settle this?

    I've informed my employer, and she has been extremely supportive, even going so far as writing her own letter for me to fax in along with mine as she was working along side me the day of the test and can attest to my sobriety. She's even willing to keep me on staff in a non-nursing role if the BON suspends my license temporarily, which is great but I know it will come with a steep pay cut.

    I'm really just wondering what step to take next. I'm willing to fight the board, but there's only so much I can afford to spend on a lawyer as I'm the main bread winner in the family. Part of me also is wondering if its just a better idea to surrender my license and find a different career. I'm 27 and have a bachelor's degree, I'm sure I can find someone to hire me.

    Any words of advice and encouragement are welcome. I can't tell you how frustrating this is, I've been through so much this year, with getting placed on probation, losing my mom, and now this...I'm just starting to feel like there's no more fight in me.
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  2. 11 Comments

  3. by   Kel65
    I am in Texas, and as as most of us do I live in fear of accidental positives, just sweated out a fear period of thinking hair day with denatured alcohol would show as a positive. I have no words of wisdom or advice, but will put up prayer for you.
  4. by   gabby3
    This makes me sick to my stomach. I had to go to 2 additional rehabs because of positive Etg tests without drinking etoh. I tried everything to stop testing positive. Had to drop out of calif diversion. Moved to Florida
    had positive Etg here was pulled from work had to pay for additional evaluation. They use PEth test on me now at $148 a test. I'm in my 10 th year of monitoring.


    Just double check all products. I used to belong to yahoo support group for Etg positive nurses, back in 2006. Since they raised the cutoff to 500 in most states. The group isn't active now.

    They think the PEth test is the gold standard. But I have heard of multiple nurses test positive without drinking etoh.

    I pray every time I'm tested. I have paid for multiple specialist. There is some theories that yeast in the gut could be the culprit.

    Hopefully your peth test is negative.

    Gabby
  5. by   hppygr8ful
    I had two positive ETGs while in the California Diversion Program. Upon investigation both were determined to be incidental exposures and I was back at work after two consecutive clean tests. I graduated from the program in 2007.

    Hppy
  6. by   gnurse2089
    Thanks guys, I sent in my response letter today as well as a letter from my DON and one of my coworkers. Still have yet to hear about the PETH test but I know those results take awhile. In addition, I've also been tested with 4 urine tests, luckily I had some money saved up so I'm not too bad on that front.

    Spoke to my my lawyer who doesn't think they'll cease my practice because of the one bad test. However we also negotiated a deal in case I have to negotiate a settlement or go to trial with the board. This will pretty much wipe out my savings but in the long run, guess it's worth it.

    Now I just have to play the waiting game. I've been applying to some non-nursing jobs in the interim, just to have a plan B if the worst happens. I'm trying not to panic too much, just take things day by day and work as much as possible to pay for everything.

    Guess the worst part is the shame. I have a very good reputation at work and even won an award last year from my company for my nursing care, so to go from that to 3 months later not even being sure if I can be a nurse anymore is definitely tough. Thanks for the support, I'll keep y'all updated.
  7. by   dirtyhippiegirl
    Damn, you're organized and hella prepared. Mad props for that. I hope everything goes your way. And if the zombie apocalypse ever happens, I want you on my team.
  8. by   lmb2016
    Are you a diabetic? Do you use hand sanitizer before giving your urine sample? If so then this maybe the cause of your positive ETG test result. Do you know the method they are using to test your urine? If they are using a point of care cup or immunoassay then it could very well be a false-positive. Labs will have to keep urine samples for at least 30 days after testing, you can request your urine being tested by the confirmation method. Confirmation method can rule out any false-positives.
  9. by   gnurse2089
    An update, I was issued a cease practice letter on Wednesday March 15th, the day after turning my response in to the board. I don't know how much my response really mattered as I turned it in at 4 pm on the 14th and got a call at 9 am on the 15th...doesn't seem like much time to contemplate. I immediately told my work and they're making me a ward clerk for the time being, so I'm not unemployed but definitely taking a pay cut and the BON couldn't give me an estimate of how long I might have to wait to get a decision...which is annoying but I have no choice but to accept it.

    I've got a lawyer on the case and I'm going to try to fight it. Hoping the AG office will agree to settle for a longer probation period as I really don't think I can afford to go to trail. The settlement alone would cost me 4k in lawyer fees, not sure how much trial would cost.

    In the interim, I've been applying for non-nursing jobs like crazy, everything from social services coordinator to insurance clincal analyst. I also have a court date on April 19th to get my DUI expunged and after that, I won't have any criminal record to speak of. Also contemplating going back to school to get my Master's in a non-nursing field.

    As much as I want to fight this, there's also a big part of me that's wondering if it will all be worth it. The best case scenario would mean my probation period would probably be extended for another 2 years past the original 3, with increased testing. Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn't be better to transfer to a lesser paying, lower stress career, as a good portion of my income is going to this program.

    I'll keep you all updated, for now I'm just going to try to be the best darn ward clerk there is. It will be very humbling tomorrow to walk into work and have all these nurses that used to look up to me now be my supervisors, but I guess that is the nature of life. We are humbled today in preparation, hopefully, for the gifts we will receive in the future.
  10. by   gabby3
    Hang in there. You didn't drink. This test is known to be faulty. I know of over 1,000 nurses over the past 10 years that have been in the same situation. There is a lot of documentation and a study from SAMSHA that informs monitoring boards to use this test only as a guideline.

    The board is waiting for the PEth results. Some nurses admit to drinking after the PEth test result is positive.

    This is first time positive for you, they shouldn't even extend your monitoring if you didn't drink.

    Hang in there until you get the PEth results. Its takes approximately 1-2 weeks for results.

    Good luck
    Gabby
  11. by   SororAKS
    You're prepared and unafraid to challenge them. Bravo for you. Keep us posted.

    I had a positive ETG a few months back that was actually negative. Someone didn't know how to correctly read lab results.
  12. by   dr. eatbox
    Sorry for my confusion:
    What date did you start monitoring in CA?
    What does it consist of?
    What was your offense?

    I'm A new RN in Nevada and they put me on monitoring for a DUI THREE years ago before nursing school. Every week I go to AA, a 30 min nurse group with isn't bad at all, obviously checking every morning to affinity, no night shifts (which has screwed me over in finding a hospital job), no charge nurse for a year, 1 monthly therapy session. I get drug/alcohol screened about once a mont. it all costs around $200 a month

    I'd love to come back to my home California one day but I hear they are much more strict. My agreement is 3 years with Nevada and I would like to start my transfer with at least 1 year of sobriety and work experience under my belt. I have even stopped filling my Xanax and aderal prescriptions so they can't use those against me like they did by blindsiding me in a PEG crucifiction (I mean meeting) like they did here.

    Thanks and stay strong man

    I actually got a call today from some idiot at the NV board subbing In For my regular compliance officer. He said I tested positive for a benzo not on my RX list. I said well most benzos are the same metabolite and anyway so it it's a false positive. He said he'd have to move forward with procedure, expect a retest, and call me later. So the whole day goes by and I'm ******** myself even though I have done nothing wrong. He finally calls back and says "good news it's a metabolite" NO **** budddy! Of course he didn't believe me In The first conversation and had to do some research on his own bc he was just a sub in for the day. So moral of the story is these idiots at the board have ZERO accountability or anyone making sure they are playing fair, which they are not, and giving us actual non-nursing offenders a fair deal.

    You have to fight, and don't ever give in or give up
  13. by   Hope36280
    What was the outcome? Im in the same situation.

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